Lacson smells rehab corruption in LGUs

Paterno Esmaquel II
'I would like to set the tone,' says rehabilitation czar Panfilo 'Ping' Lacson, asking the PNP and NBI to look into this

'REHAB CZAR.' President Benigno Aquino III swears in Panfilo Lacson as 'presidential assistant for rehabilitation and recovery.' Photo courtesy of the Malacañang Photo Bureau

MANILA, Philippines – Less than a week after he assumed office, newly appointed rehabilitation czar Panfilo “Ping” Lacson said “unscrupulous lower-ranking officials” have begun to take advantage of the daunting task ahead.

In an interview on dzBB on Sunday, December 15, Lacson said he received reports on these local officials two days ago, when he toured areas devastated by Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) for the first time as rehabilitation czar.

Hindi pa nga full blast o full blown ‘yung rehabilitation efforts eh meron na ngang mga nagpapalu-palusot,” Lacson told dzBB’s Nimfa Ravelo. (Rehabilitation efforts haven’t even gone full blast or full blown, and yet we some of them have already begun to make alibis.)

Lacson, the newly appointed presidential assistant for rehabilitation and recovery, said he has requested the National Bureau of Investigation and the Philippine National Police to look into this.

“I would like to set the tone,” said Lacson, whose marching orders from the President is to ensure transparency in spending. (READ: Aquino to Lacson: Take care of funds.)

A former Philippine police chief, Lacson said he is bent not only on making corrupt officials explain, but on filing cases against them.

‘No need to handle funds’

Despite these marching orders, Lacson cannot directly handle funds under his new position. Funds will have to pass through other agencies, he explained.

Under Memorandum Order No. 62, Lacson’s power over funds is limited to proposals and oversight, specifically to: 

  • “Propose funding support for the implementation of the plans and programs”; and
  • “Exercise oversight over the relevant government agencies with respect to the implementation of the plans and programs”

Lacson, however, said this doesn’t stop him from “cracking the whip.”

Hindi naman kailangang hawakan ko ang pondo at ako mismo ang mag-allocate ng pondo para makita ko ang mga ganoong shenanigans,” Lacson said. (I don’t need to handle the funds and allocate these myself for me to see those kinds of shenanigans.)

The former senator said the Senate, after all, often exercises this oversight function, too.

Lacson said another challenge is to enlist the help of the private sector.

He said at least two giant companies have volunteered to help in rehabilitation efforts, and more of these companies will follow suit. (READ: Giant firms pledge to lead Haiyan rehab.)

“No strings attached,” the rehabilitation czar explained.

Lacson vowed to complete 80% of the work by June 2016. That is, to rebuild 16 million lives after Yolanda damaged at least P35.54 billion in crops and infrastructure, and killed at least 6,057 people. – Rappler.com

Paterno Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He obtained his MA Journalism degree from Ateneo and later finished MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at pat.esmaquel@rappler.com.